Friday, November 30, 2007

Chinese Singer Proposes To The "Most Eligible World Leader"

Earlier this month, Nicolas Sarkozy made it on top of the FP list of "Most Eligible World Leaders" ("Interests: Anglo-Saxon economic reform, jogging, the United States of America"). Et voilà, here we go:

"I want to say to the President of France: 'Choose me. I will be a perfect wife for you," said Namu - whose full name is Yang Erche Namu - in a filmed internet plea aired by French website


She is from the Himalayan Mosuo minority near Tibet - a matriarchal people (...)

Apparently, for a Mosuo woman, proposing seems the normal thing to do. Then again:

where the women never actually marry.

Instead, they take a series of lovers throughout their lives and bring up the children under one roof.

The roof of her mother's house hasn't been big enough for Namu, though, judging from this source from 2004:


[S]he was a 13-year-old running away from a small village in which she felt trapped, and from a mother from whom she was estranged. Few in her tribe expected her to survive. To her people, the world beyond their mountainous home was largely unknown and incomprehensibly vast. Not only did she survive, she thrived, making her way to Shanghai, where a combination of luck and talent secured her a place at the prestigious Conservatory of Music, where she was the school’s first Mosuo student.


Sounds like an interesting person. Rachel DeWoskin might have thought the same, making Namu the focus of a lengthy article on "the new cultural revolution" (no, really!) for the Sunday Times and claiming that Namu "gave China the right to vote" (to vote a TV idol, that is. For the beginning, don't let it get too ambitious, right?):


Yang Erche Namu is somehow both a predictable and unimaginable candidate for playing the part of China’s Paula Abdul (the American Idol judge who is a constant source of gossip). She is a model of the conflict between what audiences want to watch and what Chinese censors claim to want to conceal.


She won’t consider marrying a Chinese man; westerners, she tells me conspiratorially, are “more romantic”. The subject of Chinese women dating anyone other than Chinese men is a fraught one in China. The reasons for this range from historical resentment over barbarian invasions to the gender imbalance in China’s population and concern over the dwindling number of marriageable Chinese women. Namu, by publicly taking herself out of the running, is a PR agent for western men and potentially a terrifying role model.


An article from the Shanghai Daily (Publicity hound wants to be first lady of France) serves as an example of how terrified some Chinese are. Namu is labeled as a "disgraced talent show judge", and the author doesn't forget to mention that Namu is quite experienced as it comes to be engaged with foreigners:

Yang is also famous for her love affairs with foreign lovers. She married an American, divorced him, had a seven-year romance with a Norwegian diplomat and became an author when she decided to write about her adventures.

If the proposal turns out to be a failure, Namu could then propose to Hugo Chávez (# 5 on the FP list), who is on pair with Sarkozy in terms of divorces.

When She Wakes

In the upcoming issue, the Economist has a piece on this week's EU-China summit. It starts like this:

“LET China sleep, for when she wakes the world will shake.” So, purportedly, said Napoleon some 200 years ago. In Beijing this week European leaders have been telling their Chinese counterparts that such unease is at risk of spreading. Once content to let the Americans do the worrying, the EU is joining in.

The Napoleon quote is all nice, but... she? What makes China a woman? I don't get it. And the EU is joining the worrying? Maybe that is why the Xinhua headline went like French President Sarkozy's visit marks new phase in relations.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Warship Traffic

China reversed a decision on Thursday to block a United States aircraft carrier from making a four-day port call in Hong Kong, but the change of heart by Beijing officials came too late to stop the ship from returning to its base in Japan and missing families who had flown to Hong Kong to celebrate Thanksgiving.


The ships, with 8,000 crew members, were due in Hong Kong on Wednesday for a four-day visit.

Some crew members were planning to join family members who had flown in from the United States, Japan and the Philippines.

(U.S. Warship Misses Thanksgiving in Hong Kong. By Donald Greenless, The New York Times)

Welcome to China! Isn't that a nightmare - to look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with your loved ones and being treated like this? Btw, define "some" in "some crew members" here - or see the report by Associated Press:

Hundreds of sailors' families had flown to the city to spend the holiday with their loved ones, while dozens of Americans living in Hong Kong had prepared turkey dinners for those without visiting relatives.

"Hundreds" strikes me as being a little bit more than "some", no? Taking into account that a Thanksgiving feast needs some preparation, the dozens expats mentioned here aren't too happy either, I suppose.

Another AP report has more (wikipedia link added):

''It's hard to put any kind of positive spin on this,'' Adm. Timothy Keating told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday while flying back to the U.S. after visiting troops in Iraq. ''I'm perplexed and concerned.''

I also can't put any kind of positive spin on this, and concern is due, since it was the second time in a week that China refused to let U.S. Navy ships into the port.

Just imagine what would happen if U.S. authorities would cancel a flight to China shortly before Mid-Autumn Festival! Wouldn't there be some outraged comments from Chinese officials accusing "the USA" of "hurting the feelings of all Chinese people"? For sure.

Oh, and in the meanwhile:

A warship sailed Wednesday for the first port visit by the Chinese Navy to Japan since the end of World War II, Chinese state media reported.


The warship, the guided-missile destroyer Shenzhen, left its home port in Guangdong Province and is to arrive Nov. 28 for a four-day visit to Japan at the invitation of the Japanese Navy, according to Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency.


(Chinese Warship Visits Japan. By David Lague, The New York Times)

They'll get a warmer welcome, I presume.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chinese Hydropower and the Olympics

Mad Minerva points to an article by Jim Yardley on the human costs of Chinese dam projects. Since IHT links tend to disappear into the net nirvana, I'll give you the NYT link: Chinese Dam Projects Criticized for Their Human Costs. By Jim Yardly, New York Times.

Dai Qing, a well-know critic of the Three-Gorges-Dam project, also takes on this issue - and links it to the 2008 Olympics: Thirsty Dragon at the Olympics. By Dai Qing, The New York Review of Books. A quote:

[D]uring the Olympic Games, Beijing will enjoy an unprecedented supply of water. Special pipes will bring unpolluted water from the provinces to provide for the whole city, allowing people to enjoy potable water from their taps for the first time—but only for as long as the games last. Meanwhile, when the crowds watch and applaud the Olympic performances at the aquatic events, neither they nor the athletes will be aware that they are not really competing on the waters of Beijing's original Chaobai River. The "river" they will be using is an artificial creation made by damming the two ends of a long-dry riverbed and filling it with water pumped from deep underground.

After the Olympics, what then? The quest of Mao Zedong and his fellow Communist leaders to conquer nature led to the widespread razing of forests, the destruction of grasslands, the conversion of wetlands to farms, and the incessant damming of rivers. The heedless and unaccountable use of natural resources in more recent decades has led poor Beijing to the desperate state it is in today.

It's interesting to see how Qing stresses the line of continuity between Mao and his successors as it comes to the destruction of the environment.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How To Lose A Guy

Yesterday, I watched "How to lose a guy in 10 days" on a German TV channel. I liked the movie and endured even the (as per usual) too long and too many commercial breaks. The strange thing was that I liked the movie although I didn't find any of the actors or actresses even remotely attractive.

The German Wikipedia entry tells me, that the movie was largely panned by the critics because of being "predictable" and "frumpy". Then again, relationships between guys and girls are predictable, including all the courting and flirting actions leading to them.

As for me, it is much easier to lose me. Bringing a little, ugly dog which pees on my belongings alone would do it. But in real life, the girls are usually much more imaginative...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Berlin Impressions

In Berlin again. Yeah!

Yesterday, Jörg and me went to the Web2.0 Expo. "A Conversation with Neil Holloway, Microsoft Europe. Interviewed by Tim O'Reilly" was incredibly boring, even by "Web2.0 Talk" standards. The key note on Creating Passionate Users (Kathy Sierra) was quite funny. Then again, I always get annoyed if a mother of teenage girls is using the term "kick ass" every two minutes and regards it (plus "wtf") even "Power Point presentable". She made a point, though, by telling us that "getting laid" (the true meaning in web2.0 conferences, if I got her right) becomes a little sketchy if the audience lacks gender diversity (provided you are not gay, that is). And since the people I saw at the web2.0 expo yesterday were by about 94.4% pale, badly shaved males in their 20s to 30s, gender diversity was something from the "in your dreams, baby" section.

If you're interested in what Kathy actually said, please see this detailed blog entry by Stephanie Booth .


In the evening, I spent nearly two hours at Cafe Meilenstein, reading newspapers and listening to singer/songwriter lovesongs. The coffee and the Earl Grey were good and soooo cheap in comparison to Duesseldorf *sigh*.


Today, I went to see an exhibition about the Silk Road at Martin Gropius Bau. It was a little dry, but quite okay.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Greg Mankiw's Blog: Don't be fooled with statistics

Two of my blog friends are taking on Greg Mankiw's Blog: Don't be fooled with statistics:

Joerg Wolf has cross-posted his response here and here (this one drew some comments already), whereas Statler of the German blog A-Team, (short for "Antibuerokratieteam", anti-bureaucracy team) is fiercefully combatting his opponents here (alas, in German).

Sometimes a little confusing, this whole blog thing...

(This post is mainly to test the "create a link" feature.)